Chicago Man Sentenced for Theft of Trade Secrets in High-Frequency Computer Code Theft

The former employee of a Chicago startup firm was sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing secret computer code used in a Wall Street bank's high-frequency trading system, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Intellectual property lawyers in Chicago understand that computer programs and other trade secrets are among a firm's most valuable assets. Protecting those assets is often critical to maintaining a company's competitive advantage, or even its survival. Establishing non-compete and/or confidentiality agreements in Illinois is one way to help ensure the protection of a business' intellectual property.

In this case the 41-year-old defendant was a former computer programmer at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. before taking a job at Teza Technologies LLC, a high-frequency trading startup in Chicago. He was convicted of theft of trade secrets and transporting stolen property across state lines. The verdict came following a two-week trial in federal court in Manhattan.

The defendant was sentenced to 97 months in prison and fined 12,500. The sentence was within the 8 to 10 year range recommended by the government. The theft involved the transfer of 500,000 lines of code to an outside server.

High-frequency trading companies utilize computer-driven trading to trade shares in milliseconds with a goal of capitalizing on minute changes in stock prices, often just a fraction of a cent. The computer code upon which such systems run are closely guarded secrets.

The case is USA v Aleynikov, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 10-00096.

Chicago Business Attorney Jeremy A. Gibson handles legal issues for small businesses, contracts and agreements, intellectual property and mergers and acquisitions. Call 877-452-4529 for a free consultation.